KOLKATA: Shortage of dietary supplements like vitamins, especially those fortified with zinc that are being touted as anti-Covid, has hit the city markets again. Shops across the city have zero stock of multivitamins while others are rationing the number of strips sold to individuals.
“There is a huge gap between demand and supply and that is worrying. Last week, a company had sent 1 lakh strips of multivitamins for Kolkata and the entire stock got exhausted in a few days,” said Sajal Ganguly, general secretary of Bengal Chemists and Druggists’ association. “We are raising the issue with the manufacturers, but it will take time for the new shipment to arrive,” he added.
Too many disruptions in the supply chain, especially where essentials are involved, can inconvenience people severely. This has been a season of sudden spikes in demand, especially in the medicine sector, and the trade should ideally be able to anticipate them to preempt the disruptions.
The shortage has hit even the large retailers like Frank Ross Pharmacy. “Consumption has increased by 10 times while the supply has not been stepped up to cater to such rise in demand. There is a huge shortage, especially multivitamins with zinc,” said Gautam Jatia, chief executive official of Frank Ross.
The trouble started since lockdown following a scramble to buy the drugs found to boost immune system. The pharmacies tried to salvage the situation by getting hold of lesser known brands of these medicines and dietary supplements to cater to the growing demand.
Prasanta Pal, a retailer in Mall Road, Dum Dum, said he has not got any stock for the multivitamins, vitamin C or zinc supplements. “We have been facing shortages earlier as well. This time, it is acute and we are rationing the number of medicines being sold to individuals,” he said.
“The shortage can be witnessed at the wholesale points as well,” said Somnath Ghosh of Metro Pharma. “We are distributors for certain brands of multivitamins with Zinc. As of now, there is zero stock in our own outlets,” he added. Pharmacies that have procured Vitamins A, B complex with folic acid, C, D3 and zinc supplements last week have no stocks left now.
Pinaki Dey, consultant physician with the ILS Hospital feels that having vitamins or dietary supplement for two to three weeks is not a problem. “But if anyone is planning to have vitamins for a long period, s/he should consult a doctor. Studies have shown that Low Vitamin D level can aggravate Covid-19 conditions. On the other hand, there is no study that conclusively shows efficacy of vitamins in boosting the immunity system.”